Interrail tips you should know to make your trip successful.
You’re going on an interrailing trip? That’s great news! Interrailing may be one of the best ways to see a lot of Europe in only a small amount of time. But you’re probably wondering how interrailing works and how to not get in trouble. Then stick around for the best interrail tips!
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What is Interrail?
Let me just get one thing out of the way. There is no difference between Eurail and Interrail. It’s called Eurail for non-Europeans, and Interrail for Europeans. There’s a difference in the name, not the concept.
Now, the big question. What is Interrail?
Interrail is a company that sells train passes for traveling through Europe. This company encourages (especially) young adults to go out and see Europe in a green and inexpensive way.
There are many reasons why you should go interrailing, like:
- In Europe, there’s a huge train network. So why not use it, right?
- It’s much more eco-friendly than planes or cars.
- You will see a lot of beautiful scenery from the train.
- You get to visit 33 European countries (depending on the pass you buy).
- It’s a wonderful option for budget travel.
- Interrailing is great for developing yourself.
- You could make many new friends.
- The Interrail pass is easy to use.
- It’s a real adventure!
There are many benefits, which I hope encourage you to go interrailing. I’ve been interrailing once and it was quite the adventure. But more on that later.
When buying an interrail pass, there are many different passes to choose from. This is so you can get the best price for your situation/plans.
You can choose to buy a pass with travel days, a continuous pass, or a one-country pass. All these passes are different in both what you can do with them and their prices.
All these passes range from 100 to 700 euros. This means you can buy a pass that fits your budget.
Now without further ado, here are my top interrail tips!
The best interrail tips
Take a backpack or a (carry-on) suitcase
My first tip is already one of the most important ones.
When going interrailing, it means you get on many different trains and see many different places. This means you’ll be carrying your luggage around from time to time.
This tip comes straight from my heart (and my hurting back), take only one luggage piece with you, preferably a backpack.
It’s far from ideal to carry your luggage around all the time, especially if you’ve taken too much on your trip. So take only one backpack or suitcase with you and pack like a minimalist.
Remember that you won’t need a lot of stuff you’re packing. They say you’re supposed to lay out what you want to take with you, half it, then half it again.
I loved just taking just my Nomad Karoo backpack with me. But there are many people who would recommend a carry-on suitcase. Make sure to take your time choosing your luggage.
Install these apps
There’s absolutely no doubt that you’ll take your phone with you. And nowadays, everything’s on your phone. You can even choose to have a mobile interrail pass.
The number one app you’ll have to install is the Rail Planner App. On this app, you’ll find everything about train rides, timetables, pit stops, and (possibly) even your Interrail pass. Interrailing without this app will be very hard, if not impossible.
Extra tip: Take a power bank with you! With an empty phone, it’s hard to get anywhere. Make sure you always have a backup. So don’t forget to take your power bank!
Plan your trip!
For some of you, this may be obvious, but for others, planning doesn’t feel like something they should do.
But planning your trip is seriously a must. You don’t have to plan it to the second, not even to the day, but you have to have an idea of which places you’re going to visit.
This way you can get the Interrail pass that’s most beneficial to you, without paying too much.
You can also book your accommodations more easily if you know where you’re going. I’m not saying to book everything in advance, you can book it from your train. But knowing where you’re going, you can already save some accommodations in your Airbnb or Hostelworld apps, so you have the cheapest ones together.
But don’t plan too much either. You may end up making friends and going to another place than you planned on. And you don’t want to get fear of missing out on the place you planned to visit.
So do plan your trip, but just not too much. You’ll find your own balance.
Check your reservations before getting on the train
There are many trains you can get on without reserving a seat. On some trains, it’s optional (I recommend only reserving for long train rides), but on other trains it’s obligated.
You simply can’t get on these trains without reservation. So you need to make sure to book your reservation at least a few hours in advance and make sure it’s confirmed.
Because nothing is more stressful than making a reservation at the very last minute, hoping the train won’t leave yet.
So make sure to make reservations and double-check them!
Don’t get on night trains (unless there’s no other option)
This is probably the most discussed topic in Interrailing. Night trains. Take them or not?
For night trains you need a reservation that’s mostly between €10 and €20.
A lot of people call it a saving hack to take a night train because you don’t need to pay for a hostel or hotel.
But I’ll tell you otherwise.
Paying €20 for a night train is a waste of your money. Night trains aren’t exactly known for being quiet or easy to sleep in. There’s simply a big chance you won’t have a good night’s sleep. And that may cause you to break down during the day.
Of course, the only benefit of night trains is that you arrive at another destination in the morning, but don’t forget that the night gets crazy long if you can’t sleep.
And for those same €20 (or less) you can have a quality night’s sleep in a hostel. Being well-rested is important for making your trip a great experience.
So try to avoid night trains as much as you can. Or take one and find out if it works for you.
Plan out your budget (and write everything down)
Interrail is very popular with young adults. Mainly because it’s cheap. Young adults mostly can’t spend too much due to their busy student life, debts, or simply small savings.
Most people want to go interrailing on a budget, which makes it important to write everything down. Before AND during your trip.
You’ll have to do some research on realistic budgets for interrail. I think a realistic budget is around €45 per day per person (for food, accommodations, reservations, and experiences).
So if you’re going interrailing for 2 weeks, it’ll cost you €630 + what you paid for your interrail ticket. Of course, this budget is only a broad estimation. If you’re going to eastern Europe, this budget will be easy peasy, but if you choose to visit western or northern Europe, it’ll be more of a challenge.
Do your research on the countries you’re visiting and how expensive they are. That’ll help you make your budget realistic.
On our interrailing trip, we tried to stick to 60 euros a day for the two of us. But we ended up spending around 120 euros on average, per day. But that was only because we didn’t feel like cooking and just went out for dinner a lot. Which is something you shouldn’t do at all (or only once) when you’re on a budget.
Buy souvenirs sparingly
Because you simply don’t have space in your backpack. Souvenirs can be expensive, big, and impractical.
But I’m sure you don’t want to come home without souvenirs.
So my tip is to only buy souvenirs at the end of your trip. Of course, you can buy something small at the beginning, but if you’re a bit like me, buying souvenirs is addictive.
So only buy your souvenirs at the end of your trip, so it’s not in the way.
Prepare yourself for long journeys
Some people may be able to stare out the train windows for hours. But I can’t seem to figure out their secret for doing so.
Because most people just don’t have the patience for this, you’ll need to find something to do on the train.
Take a book with you, download a game, take a set of cards, anything. Because you’re gonna have to kill hours. Be prepared and take things to do. Because you will get bored. And the hours will seem endless.
Okay, it sounds like interrailing is hell. But it’s not, I promise. Other than the long journeys, it’s great 😉
Always pack essentials
Even though you may not need them, take them with you.
These essentials include: Face masks, passports, first aid kits, rain jackets, sunscreen, menstrual products, and stuff like that. Even though you may not use them, you have to be prepared.
Do try to keep it as small and simple as you can. Seeing that you don’t have much packing space, you don’t want to fill it all up with essentials.
But do take some things with you, it may make things easier for you.
Be prepared for emergencies
Things can go wrong. You have to keep that in mind. Your trip may end up becoming a disaster. But if you prepare well and stay organized, not many things can go wrong.
But let me tell you a little bit about what happened on my trip.
The first night on the night train, 100 euros got stolen from my wallet, because the cabin couldn’t lock and we fell asleep. Someone just walked by us took my cash out and walked away. Pretty creepy.
On our entire trip, we lost a lot of things because my boyfriend and I both couldn’t stay organized. We lost 3 pairs of earbuds, a water bottle, a hat, and probably more.
Then in the middle of our trip, I lost my phone in an uber. After a lot of research, I simply couldn’t get it back. It also had my ID card and bank card in its case, so those were done too. I couldn’t cross any border without identification. And my Interrail pass was on my phone, so I couldn’t use it anymore.
So we went to the capital city, to the dutch embassy. But arriving in the city, my boyfriend’s wallet got stolen. Fun, yeah?
So all we were left with was a phone. No bank cards, identification, nothing but our backpacks, and a phone. Luckily we could pay with this phone, otherwise, we were (no reason to sugarcoat it) F@cked.
Eventually, with a lot of energy and money, everything was solved. But it was hard because we weren’t prepared, and the instances that should’ve helped us, couldn’t help us.
So we were right there in Zagreb, taking trips to the Dutch embassy, laughing ourselves to death. Of course, it was stressful, but we didn’t want to let it ruin our last few days. So we made the best of it. And now it got us unforgettable memories.
So all I’m trying to say is be prepared! Take copies, multiple identifications, and different bank and credit cards, and store them in different places in your luggage. Because these things can happen to anyone. You don’t choose to have your wallet stolen, you know?
Final thoughts on interrail tips
With these tips and bits of advice, you should be able to make your trip wonderful and unforgettable. Just make sure to plan and prepare and you’ll be good to go!
Let me know which tip you didn’t know yet in the comments below!
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